Tchaikovsky competition eliminates major names

Tchaikovsky competition eliminates major names


norman lebrecht

June 20, 2019

Among those who failed to pass the first round today are the hotly fancied pianists Alexander Malofeev and George Harliono and violinist Kristine Balanas.

The violin second rounders are:
Chisa Kitagawa (Japan)

Ravil Islyamov (Russia)

Mayumi Kanagawa (US)

Marc Bouchkov (Belgium)

Aylen Pritchin (Russia)

Anna Savkina (Russia)

Leonid Zheleznyi (Russia)

Albrecht Menzel (Germany)

Lara Boschkor (Germany)

Milan Al-Ashhab (Czech Republic)

Donghyun Kim (South Korea)

Sergey Dogadin (Russia)


The piano qualifiers are:

Konstantin Emelyanov (Russia)

Dmitry Shishkin (Russia)

An Tianxu (China)

Andrey Gugnin (Russia)

Alexander Gadjiev (Italy)

Alexey Melnikov (Russia)

Philipp Kopachevsky (Russia)

Alexandre Kantorow (France)

Arseniy Tarasevich-Nikolaev (Russia)

Mao Fujita (Japan)

Kenneth Broberg (United States of America)

Sara Daneshpour (United States of America)

Anna Geniushene (Russia)

Do-Hyun Kim (South Korea)



  • Luke Moissinac says:

    Harliono just made too many errors. He had a bad day.

  • Anon says:

    I’m not following the piano candidates but there certainly is an uproar on social media about Malofeev not passing.

    It finally adds a little spice to this competition, which is very orderly and predictable so far. Where is the drama this year? Geez, 4 years ago a conductor was fired for racist comments, Gergiev was summoned by an angry mob on social media about the incident, a piano candidate jumped onto the stage and tried to play a final round even though he hadn’t passed, and loads more.

    Until this Malofeev outcry, the most exciting thing that’s happened is that a US oboe candidate had his luggage lost on the flight over and has been allowed to play on the last day instead of the first day.

    What is the Tchaikovsky Competition with no drama? Counting on the intriguing Colombian cellist Santiago Cañón-Valencia, who has passed to the next round, for a little excitement!

  • Carlos says:

    Malofeev’s Beethoven Appassionata was an unmitigated DISASTER. He played a most excellent Doumka of Tchaikovsky and good studies but nothing could have made up for that dreadful Appassionata, sadly.

    • Jake says:

      Malofeev has no brain. People will hate his music after a while.

      • Carlos says:

        What a disgraceful thing to say. Malofeev is a very talented musician, full of potential. Grow the hell up

      • Dea says:

        Sorry, dear, but this can be only said by someone lacking it himself. Malofeev has everything – intelligence, concept, depth of feelings, excellent musicianship. Can’t imagine he can play badly. It may not be perfect if he is unwell but it will always touch the soul of the audience.

    • RocketMan says:

      You are right about the Beethoven. The last movement was way too fast.

  • Carlos says:

    Also sadly exiting from piano category is Yike Tony Yang, youngest prize winner of Chopin competition, who played a marvelous Bach Prelude and Fugue in G and most insightful Beethoven Op.101

    • Forte says:

      Yike’s interpretation was weird and not convincing enough. He is not good now.

      • Carlos says:

        Can you kindly elaborate? What did you find weird? Not convincing enough – well, mater of taste but to me it was plenty convincing

        • Jakub says:

          For me too. Yang could really have been a potential finalist. What we have now is a terrible list in my opinion.

  • Lis says:

    I’m not surprised at all that Malofeev got eliminated. His career goes nowhere without his inner circle’s blind support. All he does at the piano is technic, technic and technic. No music AT ALL

  • Hawkins says:

    The ONLY composer Malofeev is good at is Prokofiev. No one else. He shouldn’t play the piano, he should do percussion

    • Peter Donohoe says:

      That says far more about your assessment of Prokofiev than it does about the pianist. Do grow up.

      • Hawkins says:

        Peter, out of all the composers Malofeev plays, Prokofiev is the closest to percussion. Listen to Malofeev’s disastrous Beethoven for example, he ignores structure, direction, sound and ultimately – music. He is not a musician, he is just a pianist who plays the piano and hit the right notes. Thus I recommend him to play percussion. I think it will be a better instrument for him.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          I’d have to agree with that based on what I heard in Round 1. I was quite surprised when Iistened because Alexander Malofeev has had plenty of public performances. I expect there’s plenty of scope, at just 17, for further interpretational development.

        • Peter Donohoe says:

          I have not heard Mr Malofeev play yet, but will do so. In the meantime, however, I must point out that percussionists are musicians as well, and that I feel that Prokofiev’s music is predominantly lyrical. I apologise for my sharpness yesterday, but please be careful of stereotypes.

      • Carlos says:

        Spot on Maestro

      • Walter says:

        Sounds like you’re bitter about not being invited back to judge because of how you acted on social media in the last competition. Do grow up.

        P.S. The video of you sleeping during the winner’s concert says it all.

        • Arthur Parker says:

          What a preposterously childish and stupid remark. I suggest you either withdraw it or justify making it in response to what Mr Donahoe said about Prokofiev and Malofeev.

        • Peter Donohoe says:

          Don’t be a jerk Walter; your reply has no connection with my comment.

  • George says:

    I’m mystified that George Harliono did not advance. Alexander Malofeev, who has technique to burn, may well have burned a little too brightly. But, oh, how exciting it was!

  • Jakub says:

    Where is Yang Yi Ke ?!!??!

  • Musician says:

    The violin results are a disgrace already! Once again, Kuschnir is having at least 2 students in the semi final, Menzel and Dogadin. And what about eliminating some of the best in the first round?? Sirena Huang, Kristine Balanas, Mone Hatori, Soobeen Lee?? Winners of major competitions and great violinists! All of this to make it easier to push his own students into the final…. no questions as to who will win the violin division( dogadin).

    • Kate says:

      I agree. Violinist Balanas was amazing!!

    • Bill says:

      I guess it is not possible that Kuschnir is good at teaching players how to play competitions well? Yes, often when he is on the jury, his students do well, but some of them also do well when he is not on the jury.

      My off-the-record discussions with people who have done a considerable amount of judging of high-level competitions about competitions they followed while not on the jury have convinced me that no two juries are the same, and even if there is no funny business, the players lauded by one jury may not be viewed favorably by another. This is probably a good thing, considering how many players we see entering a long list of competitions. Unless they are truly superior to all the rest, do you really want to see the same prize winners over and over, or do you want to see some more players getting some exposure? Isn’t that exposure a good part of the reason to have competitions?

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Well, in the past a major role of these competitions was to work out which musicians had a chance of a major solo career. If there are 50 different prize winners then the competitions are no longer doing this.

  • Andrei says:

    Personally outraged by the lack of Tony Yang and George Harliono, but not really surprised about Malofeev. His Appassionata was highly unsuccessful. In the violin category, I was surprised not to see SooBeen Lee and Kristine Balanas.

  • young says:

    I was shocked knowing Soobin Lee was eliminated.

  • M2N2K says:

    There may be two basic explanations for eliminating a few known contestants. Bad: jurists are trying to help their favorites by giving failing “grades” to the most “dangerous” rivals. Good: jurists are ignoring “reputations” and really listening to the way everyone plays.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I”m not at all surprised about Malofeev; he was rushed and glib and his performance was entirely about pyrotechnics.

  • Stephen says:

    Kristine Balanas is not a major name. Soo Been Lee and Sirena Huang were potentially 1st prize winners and … GONE. I’m calling BS on this one already.

  • Ray says:

    If I were a betting man, I would pick Emelyanov, Melnikov and Kopachevsky as finalists.

  • Andy says:

    Suprised Ha Young Choi and Wassily Gerassimez didn’t pass but someone like Fedor Amosov did. Two lesser known cellists but both very impressive players. Choi’s Pezzo was easily among the best and she had the most convincing technique.

  • Angela Borochov says:

    Malofeev is great playing Rachmaninov 3..his Appassionata was just not Beethoven nervous and rushed maybe contest nerves.What a pity he has great potential.

  • Mr. J says:

    I must agree that it was Beethoven-Liszt – Appassionata. Way too much showing of technique, not enough music, brain, interpretation and so on… I agree. But that doesn’t change the fact, that at 17 years old he is doing unbelievable things. Why punish him so hard just for appassionata? His Bach was very well played. He is alive in a good way to me, not like many others who are dead souls only playing correct notes and feel something…? hmm? :)) Who cares about that? Nobody cares. Thats why it’s such a buzz over social media, because we lost exciting pianist who’s energy is contageus. Noone else in this competition has that ability.

  • Timothy says:

    I do see why people ridiculed on his rendition of Beethoven’s sonata…In fact, I don’t think he was in the right state of mind in that round of audition at all…he seemed disorientated..

    On another note, I found Chen Yibai from the Cello category most promising.


  • Just a violinist says:

    Greetings to everyone.
    Are you speaking about music or competitions here? Because are two different things..
    Competitions in music are a big b….t
    You think winning a 1st prize in a competition like Tchaikovsky or Queen Elizabeth etc, brings you fame and a good living? Wrong! I know some 1st prize winners of those competitions who are struggling to win orchestral auditions now. Why we arrived at this point in classical music? Because classical music is an industry:) You need to be a great business man to have a successful career. Bottom line, who passed and who didn’t, who will win and who will not win, doesn’t matter… For me they all play the same, because they all play to win and not to make music. Cheers to all

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel like Kritine Balanas wasn’t really taking this competition seriously, at all and her being eliminated was well deserved. The way she act on stage, her playing was way too mechanical lacking of musicality and colours , there’s even some major intonation problems here and there. Even on the introduction video she mentioned that she’s been spending a lot of time in the beach, having a good time with friends when the competition is literally just around the corner.

  • John Eyers says:

    Alexander Malofeev was obviously very unwell. He was obviously distressed and sweating profusely, trying his best to mop up the sweat whenever he could. In spite of this his performance contained flashes of huge magnificence, a true maestro at 17! How disgraceful to eliminate him in this way

  • Sam says:

    I’m personally infuriated at all of these comments about Alexander Malofeev’s performance. I understand that it’s the largest music event in Russia and he must have been under a lot of stress, but I disagree with the comments that state that he has “no brain” or “musical intellect”. He’s been playing Rachmaninoff since he was 11 and probably even younger, with some of the most musical maturity I’ve seen in ANY pianist. Granted, this is just my opinion but I don’t think it’s fair at all to call his performance a disaster by any means. He collected himself after his Beethoven piece and gave a hell of a performance afterwards.